In the most basic terms, fulfillment is the process for preparing and delivering a customer’s order. But in reality, fulfillment is a complex process that begins the moment a customer hits the buy button and ends once the product is in the hands of a satisfied buyer. It’s the end customers that drive the process and hold the power. Most are also more informed than ever before and have higher expectations for receiving quality, undamaged products, on time.
Ensuring the fulfillment process is efficient and cost-effective is vital to your company’s reputation and long-term success. In other words, paying close attention to all of the steps it takes from receiving the order to getting it to your customer’s doorstep is one of the most important activities for your business.
What Does Order Fulfillment Entail?
Fulfillment involves order processing, warehousing, picking and packing product, choosing a postage carrier, shipping and logistics, and communicating order status with customers, all the way to ensuring the customer has received the correct product in a timely manner.
In addition, it’s important to ensure inventory is received and in stock, properly stored, and managed through an accurate inventory system. Smaller companies may use a simple spreadsheet with product stored in-house. For growing companies, however, inventory management and warehousing can become much more complex.
No matter how big or small your company, the fulfillment process includes:
- Managing the supply chain, including packing and postage materials.
- Receiving inventory
- Warehousing product
- End-to-end inventory management
- Order processing, including picking and packing
- Shipping the order, which includes optimizing postage for cost and delivery, as well as tracking orders
- Quality control
- Customer communication and feedback
- Product returns
Choosing the Right Fulfillment Model for Your Company
There are many choices to make when choosing the most efficient or effective model for your business, and this may change as your company grows or due to changes in your industry or economics. These include:
Drop shipping: one of the simplest ways to start a business is to outsource both manufacturing and shipping, allowing you to focus most of your efforts on marketing. However, this model puts all control of product quality and delivery in the hands of your supplier.
In-house fulfillment: where all of the fulfillment steps are managed internally. This is well-suited for very small companies or start-ups but can become cumbersome and time-consuming as a business grows.
Third-party fulfillment: as your company grows or for larger businesses, a third-party option typically becomes the most efficient, cost-effective, and timely way to manage fulfillment and ensure your customers are delighted with your products and service.
For product-based businesses, order fulfillment is key to keeping customers and earning new ones. It requires coordinating multiple departments and resources to ensure it’s Fast, Friendly, and Accurate. It takes more than just making a sale. In short, the fulfillment process can end up making or breaking a brand’s reputation.
Whether your products are headed direct to your end customers’ doorstep, to a big box retailer, or to an Amazon warehouse, QuickBox is here to help you deliver a seamless experience throughout the fulfillment process. Contact us to learn more about how a partnership with QuickBox can help your brand thrive.